Gareth Southgate is not worried about the prospect of Harry Kane struggling with pressure as he closes on Wayne Rooney's England goals record.

Kane scored the winner as the Three Lions beat Switzerland 2-1 in Saturday's friendly at Wembley, converting a penalty 12 minutes from time.

It took him level with Bobby Charlton on 49 goals for England, meaning only Rooney on 53 is now ahead of the Tottenham star.

Rooney, who coincidentally broke Charlton's initial record with a penalty against Switzerland in 2015, was considered by many to have passed his peak when he reached 50 goals, as he only went on to score another three.

There was also a degree of obsession around the achievement in the lead up, with the idea that Rooney struggled somewhat with the pressure a common theory.

Whether that truly was the case, only Rooney knows, but Southgate is convinced Kane will not be impacted in such a way.

Asked if he wanted Kane to break the record before the World Cup so it does not become a distraction, Southgate jovially replied: "I'd like him to break it in the World Cup final!

"I think he's quite calm about it, confident he can get there because his goals per game record is phenomenally good.

"I don't know where that would compare to Jimmy Greaves, but I imagine he's the only other player who'd be close [to Greaves], so I think he knows there's always going to be speculation.

"If he doesn't break it before [the World Cup] then [the country] will be saying he's out of form and should he be in the team.

"One way or another, the focus will be on him – he's used to dealing with it and I'm sure he'll be very calm about it whichever way."

But in the eyes of Southgate, there is much more to Kane than just his goals, with the England manager delighted to have such a talent who also acts as an example with his attitude.

"I think the names he's amongst now are incredible, aren't they? He'll appreciate that history and it'll mean a lot to him to be in with those people," Southgate said of Kane pulling level with Charlton.

"You'd have to say he looks favourite to go and do that [break Rooney's record], I don't want to put any sort of curse on that and say any more, but he wants the team to do well.

"He has this dual drive. What's great is that means that whenever he turns up, because he also has the individual ambition, there's never a camp where he doesn't look like he wants to play, or doesn't want to be involved or at the forefront of things.

"That's the mentality that then spreads through the rest of the group, so I'm very pleased for him and I think in the second half especially we were just about value for the win."

England are in action again on Tuesday when they host Ivory Coast. Three days later they will find out their opponents at Qatar 2022 when the World Cup draw is made.

Marco Verratti and Jorginho were among a group of six players to leave the Italy camp after their failure to qualify for the World Cup. 

Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Gianluca Mancini also returned to their clubs ahead of schedule, with the latter two having sustained knocks. 

Italy coach Roberto Mancini is expected to ring the changes in a friendly against Turkey on Tuesday following the Azzurri's shock defeat to North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on Thursday. 

The Euro 2020 champions' first ever home loss in World Cup qualifying meant they failed to reach successive finals for the first time in their history. 

Instead of taking on Portugal in the play-off final, Italy will depart for Konya on Monday. 

Christian Eriksen scored two minutes into his international comeback as Denmark fell to a 4-2 loss against the Netherlands in Saturday's friendly at Johan Cruijff ArenA.

The midfielder was back in Denmark's squad for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 and made an instant impact after being brought on at half-time.

Eriksen's well-taken goal, coming at the ground where he made a name for himself with Ajax, got Denmark back into the game after the hosts opened up a 3-1 lead at the break.

Steven Bergwijn and Nathan Ake netted either side of Jannik Vestergaard's leveller before Memphis Depay converted a penalty, with Bergwijn rounding things off after Eriksen's strike.

 

The Netherlands had already tested Kasper Schmeichel three times before Bergwijn met Daley Blind's left-sided cross and headed in a 16th-minute opener.

Denmark's response was a swift one, with Joakim Maehle sending in a cross for Vestergaard to glance in a leveller four minutes later after Jesper Lindstrom's free-kick was blocked.

Ake restored the Netherlands' lead shortly before the half-hour mark with another headed goal, finishing from close range once picked out by a fine Steven Berghuis delivery.

Louis van Gaal's men had some breathing space before the interval thanks to a Depay penalty, which was awarded for Vestergaard's challenge on Berghuis.

Denmark lost Yussuf Poulsen and Thomas Delaney to injury but were given a lifeline when Eriksen converted fellow substitute Andreas Skov Olsen's pass with a first-time finish.

Bergwijn's curled effort with 20 minutes to go ended Denmark's hopes of claiming a draw, though there was still time for Eriksen to send a long-range shot off the post.

Harry Kane appreciated being alongside "amazing company" after joining Bobby Charlton on 49 goals for England with his penalty in a 2-1 win over Switzerland. 

England fell behind to Breel Embolo's opener at Wembley on Saturday but Luke Shaw equalised on the stroke of half-time and Kane converted a winner from the spot after Steven Zuber was adjudged to have handled the ball following a VAR review. 

The Tottenham striker now sits joint-second on the all-time goalscoring list for the Three Lions, with only Wayne Rooney (53) ahead of him. 

Kane's penalty was his 14th in international football – five more than any other England player – and the 100th the country have scored in all competitions.

"It is amazing company to be with," Kane told Sky Sports of moving level with Charlton. 

"[I'm] super proud to be doing that but we look forward to the next one. A big year ahead to get more caps and more goals. I will be ready for Tuesday [against Ivory Coast] but it is down to the manager." 

He added: "You have to be ready for any chance at any moment. Penalties are a great way of getting on the scoresheet, I practice and work on them a lot." 

Gareth Southgate handed debuts to Marc Guehi, Kyle Walker-Peters and Tyrick Mitchell and Kane was pleased to get the win with a number of less experienced players in the squad. 

"Tough game. A big year ahead and a chance for us to try different systems and formations to see how we get on. I felt it was a good performance but room for improvement but a good win to start the year," he said. 

"We rotated the squad, new faces getting debuts and these are the games you have to try stuff. There is not a lot of time between now and the World Cup. 

"The new boys did great, really well. Marc Guehi got the penalty and good to see the young players coming on. You want to start your England career with a win and thankfully we did that." 

Dani Olmo hit a late stunner to spare Spain's blushes and secure a 2-1 win over Albania in a friendly that began in drab fashion but ended in high drama.

Ferran Torres tucked away a pass from substitute Yeremi Pino in the 75th minute to make the breakthrough at Espanyol's RCDE Stadium.

Spain were then stunned when Pau Torres headed a hopeful long ball against Albania's Myrto Uzuni and the ball trickled past debutant goalkeeper David Raya for a freak equaliser.

Yet there was still time for a classy goal from Olmo in the 90th minute, as Spain earned a victory in their first match in Catalonia for 18 years.

England began their World Cup year with a 2-1 friendly victory over Switzerland at Wembley on Saturday thanks to Harry Kane's late winner.

The Three Lions were by no means spectacular, but Gareth Southgate will in all likelihood be content as they got the job done despite fielding a somewhat unfamiliar starting XI.

Nevertheless, Southgate may have expected more from a first half that Switzerland had by far the better of, with Breel Embolo's headed opener one of nine shots to England's two.

But a fierce Luke Shaw hit right before the break had the hosts level at the interval.

The hosts enjoyed greater control in the second half and eventually dealt the decisive blow via Kane's penalty, his 49th international strike, leaving him behind only Wayne Rooney (53) for the most England goals.

Victory looked unlikely for a while, however. The Three Lions found themselves trailing after 22 minutes as Embolo nodded in from Xherdan Shaqiri's right-wing cross.

It would have been 2-0 a few moments later were it not for Jordan Pickford, whose sharp reflexes ensured Fabian Frei's goal-bound effort was pushed onto the crossbar.

Ricardo Rodriguez's long-range strike forced Pickford into action again late in the half, before Embolo scuffed the rebound wide.

England capitalised on those let-offs on the stroke of half-time when Shaw ran on to Conor Gallagher's cut-back and smashed home from 20 yards.

Shortly after the restart, Kane's attempted lob from a tight angle came back off goalkeeper Jonas Omlin's face and debutant Marc Guehi's glancing header at the resulting corner flew agonisingly wide.

England's belief grew as the half progressed and Kane made no mistake from the spot late on after Steven Zuber handled Guehi's header inside the box.

Alan Browne's late header salvaged a 2-2 friendly draw for the Republic of Ireland against an understrength Belgium at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. 

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez opted not to pick any players with more than 50 caps during this international break, meaning Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Yannick Carrasco and Thibaut Courtois were all left out.  

Michy Batshuayi took advantage of the opportunity he was given with a great early goal, but Chiedozie Ogbene teed himself up for an overhead kick to equalise before half-time.  

Hans Vanaken restored Belgium's advantage but substitute Browne powered in an 85th-minute header to secure a draw for Ireland in their centenary game. 

Batshuayi fired Belgium into a 12th-minute lead when he cut inside of Seamus Coleman and curled a fine finish into the bottom-right corner from the left of the box.  

The visitors struggled to create further chances despite controlling possession and their advantage vanished after Callum Robinson's cross was not dealt with and Ogbene converted an acrobatic finish.  

Ireland would have moved in front two minutes after the restart were it not for a goal-line block from Jason Denayer to stop Robinson flicking James McClean's strike home.  

Shane Duffy did well to deflect a shot from Batshuayi wide but the resulting corner was nodded in by Vanaken with the help of a deflection off Coleman. 

Belgium were unable to see out just a second win in five matches, though, as Browne's powerful header gave the Ireland fans late reason to cheer.
 

What does it mean? Experienced hands show their worth  

While Martinez selected a number of younger players in his squad, it was two of the more experienced picks that took their chance to impress.  

Batshuayi netted his 23rd international goal while Vanaken, who will be 30 by the time the World Cup comes around, showed he can provide valuable depth by setting up the opener before scoring himself.  

Ogbene on form

Although some of the shine of his overhead kick was taken off by a deflection off Denayer, Ogbene's incredible ingenuity was undeniable. He also supplied a brilliant delivery for Browne's equaliser.

Coleman caught short  

Ireland captain Coleman was disappointing in the centre of defence. He let Batshuayi by too easily on the opener and sent Vanaken's header into the back of the net.  

What's next?  

Belgium entertain Burkina Faso in another friendly on Tuesday, while Ireland are in action against Lithuania. 

England will play the second half of Saturday's international friendly against Switzerland without names on their shirts to raise awareness of dementia.

The Three Lions played the first half at Wembley with names on their jerseys as usual, but they shall disappear from the shirts after the interval in a symbolic gesture that is hoped will highlight how people with dementia lose "vital memories".

England signed a two-year partnership with the Alzheimer's Society charity last August to help raise funds and increase awareness of the issues faced by those affected by the condition.

"As the squad walk out in these thought-provoking shirts, we hope it will get fans up and down the country to sit up and take note of the reality of living with dementia," Alzheimer's Society CEO Kate Lee stated.

"Football should be unforgettable – I hope it makes a massive impact that ripples from the Royal Box to the stands and into homes across the nation, inspiring people to support our work to raise awareness and reduce stigma and help us make sure no-one faces dementia alone."

The shirts worn in the second half will subsequently be auctioned to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society's work.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors hammered Barbados 9-0 in an International Friendly at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday.

AEK Athens winger Levi Garcia got a hat-trick with goals in the 27th, 35th and 40th minutes. Ryan Telfer (29th, 60th) and Nicholas Dillon (68th, 78th) both got doubles while the other goals came from Reon Moore in the 80th minute and John-Paul Rochford in the 83rd.

This was the Soca Warriors first win since a 6-1 triumph over Montserrat in a CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifier in Fort Lauderdale in July 2021.

The game was the opener of the Courts Caribbean Classic contested between Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana from March 25-29.

The action continues on Sunday when Barbados oppose Guyana and ends on Tuesday with Trinidad and Tobago playing Guyana.

All matches will be played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

 

Aurelien Tchouameni experienced a "beautiful" moment in his career with his first France goal, but he is now keen to move onto his next objective. 

After establishing himself at Monaco in the 2020-21 season, Tchouameni has been producing consistently excellent displays in the heart of their midfield.

Since the start of 2021, he ranks third across all players in the top five European leagues in terms of possession won (387) and tackles won (83), while he is joint-second in terms of duels won (408).

Tchouameni was unsurprisingly drafted into the France set-up by Didier Deschamps last year, while the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid have all been credited with an interest in the 22-year-old. 

He opened his senior international account in his eighth appearance with a last-gasp winner in a 2-1 success over Ivory Coast on Friday but was keen to keep his feet on the ground. 

"It's the fruit of my labour. I hope to remain calm. It's beautiful what's happening to me, but I have goals. Scoring my first goal was one, so now we move onto something else," Tchouameni told M6. 

"The team and the staff really help me show my personality on the pitch and that's what makes me feel great on the pitch. 

"In the first half, we attacked a lot and Ivory Coast had the opportunity to break through on the counter. We tightened the screws in the second half and I don't think we even conceded a single chance. 

"At the end we were rewarded, and that's good." 

Tchouameni's winner came after Olivier Giroud cancelled out Nicolas Pepe's opener in his first France appearance since Euro 2020. 

The goal will have boosted Giroud's chances of retaining his place in Didier Deschamps' squad ahead of the World Cup in Qatar later this year. 

"He did what he does with his club. He always has this quality of scoring, especially in the air. Of course, it made him happy," said Deschamps. 

"He returned to the group, which he knows well, and it was all the better for us. 

"When we have friendlies we must take advantage of them. There will be a second on Tuesday [against South Africa], so I will make changes to distribute the playing time to the maximum number of players." 

France have now won six straight games for the first time since 2016 and are undefeated in their past 19, scoring 43 goals during that run. 

Aurelien Tchouameni's first senior international goal secured France a last-gasp 2-1 friendly victory over Ivory Coast at the Stade Velodrome on Friday. 

Nicolas Pepe put the visitors ahead in Marseille, but Olivier Giroud marked his first Les Bleus cap since Euro 2020 with a rapid equaliser midway through the first half. 

The game looked destined to be heading for a draw with Kylian Mbappe remaining an unused substitute five years to the day since his international debut. 

However, Tchouameni – the Monaco midfielder linked with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool – headed Matteo Guendouzi's corner home in the 93rd minute to complete the turnaround and give France the win. 

Jordi Alba marvelled at the maturity of young Barcelona team-mates Pedri and Gavi because he was playing at a significantly lower level at their age. 

Gavi became the youngest player to make a senior appearance for Spain when he featured in their Nations League semi-final win over Italy last October aged 17 years and 62 days. 

Pedri, meanwhile, started all six of La Roja's games at Euro 2020 and was named Young Player of the Tournament. He only turned 19 last November. 

When he was 18, Alba was playing for Cornella in a regional league in Catalonia. He did not make his Spain debut until he was 22, two years after his first top-flight appearance.

"They are very mature for their age. When I was their age, I was lucky that experienced people helped me adapt, whether it was to the national team, Valencia or Barcelona. I try to do the same," Alba told a news conference when asked about Pedri and Gavi. 

"We are lucky that many high-level players have come from Barcelona and that they are Spanish. 

"At their age, I was playing at Cornella and they are playing European Championships and the World Cup. It's wonderful to watch them play." 

Alba will captain Spain when they take on Albania in a friendly at RCDE Stadium in Cornella de Llobregat on the outskirts of Barcelona. It will be La Roja's first match in Catalonia since 2004. 

"I expect a spectacular atmosphere, like in all the cities in Spain we visit," said Alba. 

"We haven't seen the national team in Barcelona for a long time. I'll be able to enjoy it with my people. Hopefully the party moves onto the pitch and we'll achieve our goal of winning the game." 

Spain do not have any members of their World Cup-winning side from 2010 in the squad during this international break, but Alba has no doubts about the ability they possess. 

"They talked about it during the European Championship and we did well because there are very young people but with experience, and with the ability to play a World Cup," said Alba. 

"People are leaving the national team due to their age and young people arrive. The work of the coach and his staff in that aspect has been spectacular. 

"Whoever comes into the national team will respond, will do very well. Unfortunately, the European and world champions are retiring and those who come in will do very well." 

Luis Enrique explained his reason for not signing a new contract as Spain coach is so that it is easy for him to depart if La Roja disappoint at the World Cup.

The 51-year-old former Barcelona player and coach returned for his second stint in charge of Spain's senior side in November 2019.

Five months earlier, he had stepped down for "family reasons" that were later confirmed to relate to his young daughter suffering with cancer. She died in August 2019.

When Luis Enrique made his return to the Spain setup, he only signed a three-year contract that would keep him in charge until the end of the 2022 World Cup.

Since then, he has led Spain to Qatar 2022 and presided over La Roja's run to the semi-finals of Euro 2020, impressing neutrals throughout the tournament.

However, despite what has been a largely positive spell at the helm, there remains a degree of doubt over Luis Enrique's future, which he was refreshingly honest about.

Asked why he had not yet signed a new contract beyond the World Cup, Luis Enrique – who has recently been linked with Manchester United – said: "I'm in heaven.

"Not renewing, I've done it for you [the media]. As I'm not going to have a contract [after the World Cup], if things go wrong in the World Cup, you won't have to ask me to be fired any more."

But his amusingly frank response was qualified by an insistence that there is no issue between himself and either Luis Rubiales or Jose Molina, respectively the Royal Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) president and sporting director.

"I feel super supported by both the president and Molina," Luis Enrique continued. "They signed me not once but twice.

"In the circumstances in which I came back, I will never forget it. I am going to fulfil my commitment, which is until after the World Cup."

Spain's preparations ahead of the World Cup continue with a friendly against Albania on Saturday at Espanyol's RCDE Stadium in Cornella de Llobregat, near Barcelona.

It will be Spain's first match in Catalonia for 18 years, having last played in the region in February 2004 for a friendly with Peru at the Montjuic Olympic Stadium.

La Roja and Catalonia have had a rocky relationship over the years, but Luis Enrique is excited for such a momentous occasion.

He said: "It's going to be a party. I hope we're at that level. Eighteen years is a long time... We already know the circumstances surrounding this type of occasion, but we face it with great enthusiasm.

"I took it for granted that [the stadium] was going to be full. The last time I played [for a Spain team] in Barcelona, it was the final of the [1992] Olympics and it was full.

"It was one of the best matches of my life for the gold medal. I have no doubts, I hope we can do it, turn it into a party."

Julian Weigl was taken aback by his recall to the Germany squad after a five-year absence, having previously been considered a potential future superstar.

Weigl rose to prominence at Borussia Dortmund, earning his first senior Germany cap 14 months after moving to BVB from 1860 Munich in 2015 as a 19-year-old.

His form during his first couple of seasons in the Bundesliga drew links with some of Europe's biggest clubs, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Manchester City apparently particularly keen on the talented deep-lying playmaker.

But he struggled to maintain that level after Thomas Tuchel's exit and was frustrated by untimely injuries, ultimately falling out of favour and being sold to Benfica for a reported €20million in January 2020.

The move was indicative of the decline in Weigl's reputation and he was being linked with another move less than a year after joining Benfica due to early struggles with Jorge Jesus.

But this season he has become a key figure and played in seven of Benfica's eight matches en route to the Champions League quarter-finals, helping him back into the Germany setup.

"When the coach called me, I was with my team-mate Soualiho Meite. I couldn't believe that Hansi [Flick] had called me and that I'd missed it," he told reporters.

"I knew I had to call him back. I was absolutely thrilled, we chatted for a short while and then I immediately rang my parents and my wife. They were some emotional phone calls. My family and my wife were also over the moon.

"I was extremely pleased when I got the call from Hansi. I wasn't expecting it. When you're putting in good performances for your club, you do get your hopes up a little bit, but it still came as a surprise.

"I was looking forward to seeing the lads again, and so I arrive here with a really positive energy. I've always looked out for when the national squad gets announced, and I'm more than aware that you have to be performing at the top level at your club week-in, week-out to earn your selection.

"But I never once said to myself at any time that my performances deserved to be rewarded with a call-up – I simply tried to keep concentration on myself and my game. Because of that, the eventual call-up was even more of a pleasant surprise."

Despite the promise he showed early on at Dortmund, Weigl only ever featured five times for Germany.

His most recent outing was 66 minutes in a friendly with England way back in March 2017 – now 26, Weigl does not think his playing style has changed significantly, but leaving Germany helped him grow and he feels better physically.

"Generally speaking, I'm still the same player," he continued. "What's changed is that I've become more mature and more experienced – playing abroad has certainly helped me in this regard, as well as becoming a father.

"My daughter helps me to relax, as my life is so fast-paced. I've improved from a physical perspective, too."

Weigl's recall comes at a potentially critical moment as well. With the World Cup starting in less than eight months, the midfielder surely has a genuine opportunity of being in the selection that travels to Qatar.

He is now focused on proving to Flick that he is worthy of consideration.

"I'm trying to show off what I can do every day that I'm here, as well as take on board the ideas of the head coach and work them into my game," he said.

"I'm asking for the ball a lot in the sessions and I'm not afraid to do so, because that's how I'm going to prove to the head coach that I'm a serious option for the World Cup squad, because I can be relied upon at any time and that I can put in a solid performance when needed."

Germany, who have already qualified for the World Cup, will face Israel and the Netherlands in friendlies during this international window.

Olivier Giroud has revealed he and Didier Deschamps are set for talks about the striker's future with France.

A return to favour for Giroud this week came about after Real Madrid's Karim Benzema pulled out of the squad for friendlies against Ivory Coast and South Africa due to injury.

Veteran striker Giroud has impressed with Milan this season, but the 35-year-old's efforts had not been enough to initially persuade coach Deschamps he should be part of the current group. This late call-up shows the Qatar 2022 World Cup later this year may not be out of reach for Giroud.

With 11 goals, the former Chelsea and Arsenal frontman is the joint-leading scorer across all competitions for Serie A leaders Milan.

His last appearance for France was as a substitute in the 3-3 draw with Switzerland at Euro 2020 last June, which was followed by defeat on penalties and a dispiriting last-16 exit for the pre-tournament favourites. Subsequent exclusion from Deschamps' squads mean there has been plenty to chew over.

"It was not easy, but I digested it and I think it was seen in my performance with AC Milan," Giroud told French newspaper Le Parisien. "It is planned that we will discuss my situation with the coach during the get-together."

Giroud said the call from Deschamps on Saturday to confirm he would be called in "brought me a lot of joy". He sits just five goals behind Thierry Henry in France's all-time scoring charts after netting 46 times in 110 games, and the chance to add to each tally has arisen.

France host Ivory Coast in Marseille on Friday, before tackling South Africa in Lille next Tuesday.

"I feel ready to make my contribution to the France team in the role that the coach gives me," Giroud said. "One thing is for certain: my determination to bring something to Les Blues remains intact."

Deschamps, speaking at a news conference on Monday, spoke of the difficulty that can be associated with status as a footballer, particularly if that long-held status no longer applies.

Where Giroud was once a first-choice pick, that is not now the case.

As a player, Deschamps retired on a high at the age of 31, after captaining France to Euro 2000 glory, two years on from leading the team to the World Cup.

Giroud, a 2018 World Cup winner, is playing on later into life and wants to be clear that he expects no favours, nor barriers placed in his way, based on past achievements.

"It's not because I have a status that it should create privileges or restrictions," he said. "The important thing is to have players who are 200 per cent determined towards a goal."

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